Editor’s Note: The above video explains the different ERCOT alert levels.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas’ main electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas canceled its emergency level alert indicating rolling outages were possible, due to low power reserves.

In a news release Wednesday night, ERCOT said it entered emergency operations to maintain stability of the grid.

“Due to low reserves and a drop in frequency, ERCOT entered directly into EEA 2. To protect the stability of the electric system, ERCOT has access to additional reserve sources only available during emergency conditions,” said Pablo Vegas, ERCOT President and CEO in the release. “High demand, lower wind generation, and the declining solar generation during sunset led to lower operating reserves on the grid and eventually contributed to lower frequency, which precipitated the emergency level 2 declaration.”

According to the ERCOT, Texas set a new September peak demand record Wednesday of 82,705 MW driven by extreme heat across the state.

To protect the grid, ERCOT brought all available generation online, released remaining reserves, and used demand response to lower electric demand. ERCOT also worked with out-of-state Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Market Participants to obtain additional power generation capacity, the release said. Additionally, ERCOT obtained Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) enforcement discretion, which allows a generator to extend its service/run-time/operations to help meet demand, if needed, to help maintain grid reliability.

Earlier in the day, ERCOT issued a conservation alert for Texans Wednesday evening due to potential “tight grid conditions,” according to a press release.

Factors that can lead to tight grid conditions include:

  • Heat. Continued statewide high temperatures.
  • Demand. High demand due to the heat.
  • Solar. Solar generation declines earlier in the evening hours before completely going offline at sunset.
  • Wind. Wind generation was low this evening during peak demand time.

ERCOT has several different Energy Emergency Alert levels, or EEAs. After Normal Grid Conditions, the levels are Conservation Alert level, then EEA 1, 2, and 3.

Here’s what the alert levels mean:

  • Conservation Alert: This is a voluntary request to reduce electrical use, ERCOT said. While ERCOT said it is not in emergency operations, it asks the public and “all government agencies to implement all programs to reduce energy use at their facilities.”
  • Energy Emergency Level 1: Conservation is considered to be critical. We reach this stage when operating reserves drop below 2,300 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes.
  • Emergency Level 2: Triggered when reserves are less than 1,750 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes. At this point, ERCOT can reduce demand on the system by interrupting power from large industrial customers who have contractually agreed to have their electricity turned off during an emergency.
  • Emergency Level 3: The final level hits when reserves drop below 1,430 MW. If operating reserves then drop below 1,000 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes and/or the grid’s frequency level cannot be maintained at 60 Hz, then ERCOT will implement “controlled outages,” also known as rolling blackouts.

What happens before we reach rolling blackouts? Breaking down ERCOT’s emergency alert levels

ERCOT’s notification system

Anyone who wants to sign up for grid condition notifications via the Texas Advisory and Notification System (TXANS) can visit the ERCOT website.

ERCOT has also recently launched the TXANS system to issue weather watch notifications, which are distributed three to five days ahead of forecasted weather that could impact the grid and create high demand.